Last week, ICE coordinated a set of raids in several cities that ended with the arrest of nearly 700 undocumented immigrants. ICE claims this was business as usual. President Trump says it was all part of keeping his campaign promise to get tough on criminals who are in the country illegally. “Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!” he tweeted. Who’s right?
One set of raids isn’t enough to tell. In terms of raw numbers, there doesn’t seem to be anything unusual going on. However, ICE doesn’t generally conduct raids in multiple cities over the course of just a few days. That suggests that maybe there was something unusual going on.
My guess: the arrests themselves were fairly routine. However, they were deliberately conducted in a way to maximize publicity. This would certainly gibe with Trump’s usual way of doing business.
We won’t get a real answer about this until the end of the year, when ICE releases total removal numbers for FY2017, which ends September 30. That will tell us whether ICE is deporting more people, and in particular, whether they’re targeting criminals more vigorously than in the past. For comparison, here are total removal numbers for criminal aliens since 2000: